Mr. Kudo decided on his own to build the monument and engrave it with the names of the Americans said to have died: John C. Colehower, Leon E. Czarnecki, William R. Fredericks, Robert C. Johnson, Charles M. Kearns, Leo C. Oeinck, Dale E. Plambeck, Teddy J. Ponczka, Robert B. Williams and Howard T. Shingledecker.
But those identities remain in doubt; the archives in Japan are silent about many details. According to the records of the military tribunal, there was no Johnson, Kearns, Oeinck or Shingledecker on the B-29. There were instead Jack M. Berry, Billy J. Brown, Merlin R. Calvin, Irving A. Corliss, Jack V. Dengler and Charles Palmer.
A Japanese researcher suggests there was at least one more flier, identity unknown.
Whatever the true number of victims, they are honored collectively each May 5.
The commemorative service at the monument to the Americans began this year at 10 a.m.
Seven friends of Kinzou Kasuya attended the ceremony. "Time passes quickly -- I'm an old man of 74," said Haru Takamure, a former pilot in Kasuya's squadron. "I'm beginning to forget, to forget Kasuya. Compared to me and my friends, those who died left a memory of being young and courageous."
The mayor of Takeda City, the village closest to the crash site, spoke briefly. The memorial, he said, was intended to transcend hatred.
"War does not necessarily come from outside," he said. "It can come from inside ourselves."
Behind him were banners in English and Japanese: "Dedicated to a young Japanese soldier and the crew of the B-29 which crashed here." A picture of Kasuya was placed on the monument, along with a bowl of fruit and sake and -- perhaps in deference to American tastes -- a tray of chocolate chip cookies.
A second, quieter ceremony was held at the monument to Kasuya. A Buddhist monk went from there into the hills to honor the Americans who died before they ever reached Kyushu University.
He said a prayer at each of three stones, marking where three of the Americans are known to have died. Finally, at dusk, he climbed a steep hill to where another flier had been seen to descend from the sky.
In darkness, he said a prayer for the last of the dead.